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Are You Really Ready for a Promotion?

Hannah P. Morgan

Wouldn't it be great if you could gain more responsibility, a better job title, greater prestige and more money? Who doesn't want all this? Yet it comes at a price. Before you start dreaming about that glamorous-looking job with a private office and oodles of money, think about the what it really means.

More stress. The more responsibility you have usually translates into more stress. When you oversee other people, you have to manage them, and people have issues. Performance metrics have to be monitored and addressed; from attendance to performance reviews. Are you equipped to manage the myriad of personal and professional issues of people who used to be your co-workers?

Company politics also come into play. You may not have been exposed to the quirks and demands of leadership in previous roles, but consider yourself the buffer or peacekeeper. Managing conflict and maintaining motivation are seldom as easy as they appear.

Talk to any new manager or someone who has recently been promoted and learn what he or she would have done better or differently within his or her first 30 days in the new role.

More hours. A promotion also means more work, and more work means more hours. Are you ready to forgo your vacation or miss an important event after work? As talented as you may be in delegating your workload, there are simply some things you will have to tend to yourself. And don't think your new team won't notice if you skip out early or aren't there to support them in meeting a critical deadline - they will.

Still Want a Promotion?

If you aren't turned off by the stress and work load, have a look at the track record within your current company to see what lies ahead. How long has your manager been in her position? Are there any foreseeable changes for her in the next year? Do people often move around within the company? When was the last transfer and what were the qualifications that transferee possessed? Better yet, how did she get from job A to job B?

You may find that movement within your current company is nonexistent or very slow. If this is the case, begin exploring options at your competitors or companies that do similar work. Begin mingling at events where you can network with employees from these companies. Also watch the news for notifications of new contracts, buy-outs, mergers and promotions. These signs of change can mean potential new opportunities for you.

They say that great chess players know their last move before they make their first. Carefully consider a strategy for how you will get where you want to go next.

What You Need

You will need some good publicity to set yourself apart. Just doing your job well isn't good enough. You've seen it before. The last promotion went to the person who hardly seemed most qualified. So what was the secret? Somehow, the work they did got on the radar of those who hand out promotions. These are just some of the qualities that need to be recognized if you are serious about getting promoted.

Hustle. You want to be viewed as the person who goes above and beyond. This could mean taking on special projects or staying late to put finishing touches on a report. Hustle means you are hungry, eager, hardworking, proactive, passionate and motivated all rolled into one.

Business acumen. You'll need to learn to speak corporate-ese. In other words, start understanding the implications of terms like P&L, big data, customer feedback, SWOT and many more. Think about the big picture and how your role and department directly impact the bottom line.

Interpersonal communication. Being well-liked is a delicate balance. It requires you deliver the most difficult message in such a way that the receiver feels and thinks everything is going to be all right. Tact and diplomacy are critical skills for you to develop. You need to present information to the right people at the right time and in the right way. Communication is also about being a good listener. Be the person who listens and asks questions. Be the one who doesn't judge or jump to assumptions. At the end of the day, you will have established trust among your peers and those above you.

Who Can Help?

You will need the support from others to achieve your goal. Without being a kiss-up, you should begin forming bonds with key influencers in your company. You may choose someone more senior to be a mentor. This relationship would serve you well for two reasons. First, you will learn new things from your mentor and second, they will learn more about your capabilities.

An advocate is another avenue. Identify someone who is respected in your company and enter into a partnership with them. Clearly identify what your goals are and ask if he or she can help by keeping an eye out for opportunities to help provide you with exposure. Of course, you have to earn it.

Lead Yourself

Whether you want a promotion or just want to be an independent contributor, you still need to be a strong leader. A leader is someone who lives and works with integrity and transparency; staying true to his or her values. A leader thinks about the interests of others and is a good corporate and community citizen. A leader is always learning and developing. As you work on your self-leadership, keep these important things in mind: Continue to grow your network, inside and outside the company, build a reputation for delivering outstanding work, identify a cheerleader and always make others look good.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain.

Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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